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Immigration: summer ends with 11.6% fewer irregular entries into Spain

Arrivals to the peninsula by sea are especially reduced, by 27.8% less
REUTERS/JON NAZCA - Migrantes corren hacia la valla que separa Marruecos de España

REUTERS/JON NAZCA  -   Migrants running towards the fence separating Morocco from Spain

Data provided by the Spanish Ministry of the Interior indicate a reduction in irregular entries into Spanish territory of 11.6% from 1 January 2022 to 15 September 2022, compared to the same period the previous year. 

Up to the date indicated by the latest government report, there were 21,472 irregular entries into Spain, compared to 24,293 in 2021. Entries by sea have been reduced by 14.1%, with 3,214 fewer than in the previous year. At the same time, 20.8% fewer boats were used to enter, which means fewer boats for a not so small number of irregular immigrants. 

By sea routes, it is worth noting that those heading for the mainland are the ones that have decreased the most. In the period from 1 January to 15 September 2021, 10,886 irregular migrants arrived on the Spanish mainland by sea. The same year of 2022 closed with 3,022 fewer people, a drop of 27.8% of the total by this route and destination. 

AP/BERNAT ARMANGUE  -   Imagen de migrantes próximos a la frontera entre España y Marruecos
AP/BERNAT ARMANGUE  -  Image of migrants near the border between Spain and Morocco

Despite the warning this summer that there had been an upturn in maritime arrivals from Algeria, sources from the Guardia Civil stationed in the Spanish Levante tell Atalayar that they have not had these problems this year. It could be ruled out that the breakdown in diplomatic relations between Spain and Algeria has not affected this vector. The summer months are usually the busiest months for the sea routes due to the good sea conditions, which are easier for clandestine boats to cross. 

While the peninsular route was less busy, the Canary Islands route has seen more activity. Compared to the 2021 period, there has been a 2% increase in migrant arrivals. A peak took place in mid-August when this figure compared to the previous year's period offered an increase of 25%. The passage of two more fortnights has quenched the increase. However, as with the peninsular sea route, despite the increase in migrants, the number of boats is reduced by 13.3%, which leads one to believe that the conditions for people trying to reach Spanish territory are getting worse and worse. 

REUTERS/JESÚS BLASCO DE AVELLANEDA - Migrantes africanos sentados en la cima de una valla fronteriza durante un intento de cruzar a territorios españoles, entre Marruecos y el enclave de Melilla
REUTERS/JESÚS BLASCO DE AVELLANEDA - African migrants sit on top of a border fence during an attempt to cross into Spanish territory, between Morocco and the enclave of Melilla

Critical situation in Ceuta and Melilla

The two Spanish autonomous cities located in North Africa bear the brunt of the accumulated fortnightly report of the Spanish Interior Ministry. Maritime entries in Melilla increased from 4 from January to September in 2021 to 111. Land entries increased by 157, or 15.9%. In Ceuta, entries by jumping the fence also increased by 45.6%, i.e. 236 more people. 

As far as immigration is concerned, 2022 was a year particularly marked by the tragedy that occurred between Melilla and Nador in June, when a massive assault on the fence resulted in the death of at least 23 people. The crisis also marked a turning point in relations between Morocco, Spain and the European Union in their efforts to tackle the challenge of illegal immigration. 

 Abdelmajid Bziouat/EUROPEAN COMISSION – La comisaria del Asuntos de Interior, Ylva Johansson, visita las instalaciones de Tanger-Med, Marruecos
Abdelmajid Bziouat/EUROPEAN COMISSION – Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson visits the Tanger-Med facility in Morocco

A few weeks after the events in Melilla, the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, travelled to Rabat in the company of the Spanish Interior Minister, Grande-Marlaska, to meet with his Moroccan counterpart, Abdelouafi Laftit. The meeting gave an interesting boost to cooperation between the three parties. Cooperation that later, in August, materialised in the form of increased EU aid for Morocco.
 
Brussels confirmed financial support of 500 million euros for Rabat for a period of seven years. Morocco welcomed the increase, but in recent statements to the EFE news agency, the Moroccan head of migration control, Khaled Zerouali, said that this amount is not enough to properly address the problem of illegal immigration. Zerouali told EFE's correspondent in Rabat that this financial aid "is below" what Morocco wants, which estimates its annual expenditure on immigration control at 427 million euros.